Cranberry Almond Granola Bars

I did something stupid last week. My cousin and I have been discussing going on a trip this summer. I haven’t booked anything yet because my condo is still not sold. On Wednesday I was having a bad day so I decided to pretend that I actually am going away, and I went bikini shopping.

It’s been a few years since I bought a bikini; I know I’ve gained some weight in those years, so I tried one size bigger than what I used to buy. Disaster. I was popping out and bulging over all over the place. It really was horrifying to see.

I did not buy a bikini that day.

The experience did have a positive side. It motivated me to start going to the gym again. Because of my commute to the office, it’s easiest for me to go early in the morning. I get up around 5:45 and I’m at the gym by 6:30. After my workout I hope on the bus and head to the office.

To keep myself going after my workout, I need a snack I can eat easily on the bus. I used to buy granola bars, but the amount of sugar in them defeats the purpose of working out. Instead I’ve started making my own.

The recipe still needs some perfecting, the bars sometimes break apart when I’m cutting them, but I decided to share the recipe anyway. If any of you have made granola bars, I’d appreciate any tips you might have.

Cranberry Almond Granola Bars

  • 1 ¼ cup oats
  • ¼ cup bran flakes
  • 1 tbsp flax seeds
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ cup dried cranberries
  • ½ cup chopped almonds
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • ¼ cup almond butter
  • ½ cup maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  1. Preheat the oven to 325. Line an 8 x 8 in pan with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the oats, salt, bran flakes, flax, chia, cranberries and almonds together.
  3. In a small saucepan, melt the butter then add the maple syrup, almond butter and vanilla. Stir until combined.
  4. Pour the butter mixture over the oat mixture. Stir until all the oats are covered.
  5. Pour the oat mixture into the prepared pan, spreading the oat evenly.
  6. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until browned.
  7. Let cool completely. Using the overhang from the parchment paper, pull the granola out, and cut into bars.

Enjoy!

Orange Tea Loaf

I switched departments in my company a little over a year ago. The work I do now is a lot more interesting, but the environment is … less fun. I used to work with a team the handled Canadian trades only, then switched to the International side. The work in both departments is very stressful. They are high risk jobs with tight deadlines. My old department dealt with the stress by joking around and helping each other out. Even though there was a lot of pressure coming to work was fun.

Now it’s every man for himself. In my new department I sit beside a man who swears all day long and likes to slam his phone. The other day he picked it up and slammed it down even though it wasn’t even ringing. I think he got an email that upset him; you can’t slam an email.

I’m thinking of starting a swear jar in the office. I’m pretty sure it will pay for my morning coffee. It might even cover lunch sometimes. And if it manages to curb the swearing, then it will make coming to work that much more pleasant.

Until the day my neighbour calms down, I have an afternoon ritual that gets me through the day. Just before 3PM (when the Fed closes and things get extra stressful), I make myself a tea, put on my noise reducing headphones, and I listen to music that makes me happy. This afternoon it was Graceland. Sometimes it’s the Dirty Dancing soundtrack.

If I’ve got my act together, I have a piece of cake with my tea.  This cake is one of my favourites. It’s a modification of one of my moms recipes. She uses raisins and walnuts, and puts an orange glaze on the cake. Today was particularly bad, and I could have used a little glaze on my cake, so I’ll post the recipe for even though I didn’t use it.

Orange Tea Loaf

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • zest of one orange, divided
  • juice of one orange
  • 1/4 cup yogurt
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup pistachios

For glaze

  • orange zest (leftover from cake)
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla
  • 4-5 tsp milk
  1. Preheat the oven to 350, line a loaf pan with parchment paper (or grease it)
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder and salt.
  3. In a separate bowl, beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Mix in the vanilla and 1 tsp orange zest.
  4. Add 1/2 the flour mixture the butter, mix well. Stir in the orange juice and yogurt, followed by the remaining flour. Stir in the cranberries and pistachios.
  5. Pour batter into the prepared loaf pan. Bake for 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes. Test the loaf after an hour with a toothpick to see if its done.
  6. Once done, let cool in the pan for 10 minutes then cool on a wire rack.
  7. For the glaze: Stir together the powdered sugar, vanilla, milk, and remaining orange zest. Pour over cooled cake.

Enjoy!

I’ll Never Be A Princess Pie

I heard some news last week that made me very, very sad. Prince William and Kate Middleton are now engaged. With this news the reality that I will never be a princess came crashing down on me. Sure, it’s unlikely that I’d ever meet Prince William, but as long as Kate was just “the girlfriend” there was still hope. That hope is now gone.

So I turned to the food that brings me the most comfort; pie. In this case Pear and Cranberry Hand Pies from Food & Wine Magazine. The recipe calls for store bought all butter puff pastry. I didn’t have any on hand so I decided to make my own. Now before you get all impressed with my mad skills, I used Nick Malgieri’s Quick Puff Pastry recipe from Bake! Although it doesn’t rise as much as a traditional puff pastry, for a recipe like this where height is not required it’s perfect. And it’s as easy to make as a traditional pie crust.

The hand pies are delicious. One bite brought me right back to my usual happy self. And it reminded me that while Prince Harry is a little young for me, he does meet the half my age plus seven criteria.

I think.

This is my Magazine Monday submission for this week. Head over to Cream Puffs in Venice every Monday to see what other bloggers have cooked up from their magazine collections

Pear and Cranberry Hand Pies

  • 2 pears, cored, peeled and dice into 1/4 inch cubes
  • 3/4 cup cranberries
  • 1/3 cup sugar, plus 1 tbsp for sprinkling
  • 1 tbsp all purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 pinch ground cinnamon
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 batch of Quick Puff Pastry or a 14 oz package of all butter puff pastry
  • 1 egg, beaten
  1. In a medium bowl, toss the pears, cranberries, sugar, flour, cinnamon and salt together.
  2. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the puff pastry until 1/8 inch thick. Cut out 12 four inch circles.
  3. Spoon some of the pear filling into the center of half the circles. Brush some of the egg on the edges of the dough, then cover with the remaining circles. Press the edges together making sure they are tightly sealed. Cut slits into the top of each hand pie to let some of the steam escape.
  4. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  5. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  6. Brush the tops of the hand pies with the egg wash, then bake for about 30 minutes until the crust is a nice golden brown.

Enjoy!